Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

The Summer of 2017

Summer 2017 has been full of ups and downs. The ups always outweigh the downs but it seems like this summer there have been quite a bit more downs than usual. While my journey of getting off of Prozac has probably contributed a bit to the greater frequency of downs, I’m not here to blame it all on that. I knew that with a radical change in my life there was bound to be things I needed to process and understand. I also recognize that it is ok to have these downs and to allow them to exist in my life as part of the entire picture.

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I went to relax and this chair broke as I was sitting in it. I think it is a good metaphor for how life is going these days. Photo by Haley Hoenke because she is good at capturing the best moments.

I have been heard saying “holy shit, we are getting older and our boys are really growing up and becoming independent individuals” multiple times this summer. If I’m having one of my down days, I hibernate away from the world and eventually after I snap out of it. Then when I see Finn and Aero I get a bit down because I’ve missed a very special moment in time with them as I hid my head. The moments that we have in front of us are all that we have and if we miss out on them they’re gone forever. I feel like I’ve missed out on way too many moments with Finn, Aero, and Haley this summer. If I’m already in a down mood this just helps exaggerate that mood. I have to find a way to achieve a balance.

Finn and Aero are growing up into wonderful, unique human beings. Finn has a bit of inventor and engineer in him. We are doing all that we can to encourage and foster his curiosity. This summer he was in a number of camps that did just that and he actually asked us after they were done if he could continue doing them! That’s different than last year, when we could tell that he was itching to get to the end of camp season. Aero still wasn’t into going to summer camps and only ended up being part of the YWCA sports camp (which he really enjoyed). I have to remind myself that Aero is still just 5 years old and that he’s still really excited to have some special extra time with his Mom and Dad. He really enjoyed those moments with us this summer. Here’s some LEGO animations Finn made this summer. Enjoy.

We did a lot of gardening once again but nowhere near as much as we did in 2016. I think that has to do with the fact that Haley’s sister got married in May and that took up a lot of our focus. Nonetheless the gardens of Fidelia Hall were beautiful and bountiful and a lot of the stuff that was established this year will thrive for years to come (bamboo, blueberries, kiwi, and more!). We also finally got to reap in the rewards of our Fall 2016 garlic planting and boy oh boy do we have more than enough garlic to last us for the year.

And work on Fidelia Hall continued. The start of the summer led to a flurry of activity, mostly the beginnings of installing a heating system, an entrance, and painting the tin ceiling. After that flurry of activity things just kind of stopped. I don’t know exactly why. Lack of extra money coming was a factor, as was the reality that some people charge way too much when it comes to helping out with things like repair and renovation. I’m not built for physical labor, so after a lot of it I kind of shut down. It also didn’t help that our paint sprayer decided to stop cooperating with us. Anywho there is still work that needs to be done and eventually we will get there.

 

 

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Family, Life, Things, Titusville, PA

Everything Is Going To Explode But I’m Not Worried Cause I’m Building A Fence

Everyone is shooting each other. Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders. Other politicians. Nuclear bombs. War. ISIS. Terrorism. Global Warming. Every Tweet or Facebook post or Text is taken way too far out of context and feelings are hurt. Tabloids. Everyone is yelling at each other on Facebook. You are right and I am wrong. I am wrong and you are right. I shared this post about ______________ (insert thing that I feel strongly about) on ____________(insert social media) and now I have done something. What the fuck why are we still horribly racist and sexist to each other? The income gap grows bigger and bigger. Student debt smothers many of us. Some people blame Obama. Others go back to George W. Bush. Some go as far back at Ronald Reagan. Everyone is blaming everyone else.

Everything just kind of totally sucks right now in the world and I worry that everything is going to explode.

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I had a giant fence around my house in Chattanooga TN. It was really awesome. I felt very happy with that fence around all that I love. I can’t wait until the spring of 2016. I will once again begin building a giant fence around my house in Titusville PA. I have part of it up right now and when I see it I just feel so good about things. I like to have the property which I own with my wife nicely fenced in and properly plotted out. When you have a fence you know your limits. You can use the fence to build both physical and mental barriers. You know your garden can’t go past the fence. Your chickens or border terrier or whatever you have stay inside the fence. The fence makes you feel good.

 

 

Family, Libraries, Life

Titusville

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Chapter Five of my professional life begins. Who knows what chapter I’m on in my personal life. No longer will I be focusing on kids, tweens, and teens. These days, my thoughts are focused fully on the entire community, the employees, and the physical space of the Benson Memorial Library. My view of the world has become wider, and with that I grow a little bit. I am excited to go on this adventure. I think about how we can make the library a better place for all the community. I think about the big things (what can we do to better everyone’s life?) to the little things (how can we repair the cracks in our steps?). All of these things matter. The little things and the big things work in harmony to create a great experience.

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We’ve moved from our first real home…an orange house with a lot of heart and soul…to a new home that needs some love and attention. We have many repairs to do. The carpet must go. The bathroom needs an overhaul. Like the old house, this one needs some gutters and some paint.  We’ll get there.

The new home has double the space. Over the years we’ve simplified our lives so much that we just don’t know what to do with this space! In time, we’ll fill it with all the special kinds of things that our family needs. It will be our base of operations. It is our new home, and it will be our home for a long time coming.

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With the new home comes…wait for it…a second building. An old church. This is one of the big reasons why we decided to make this leap. The second building (what do you call a church that’s no longer a church?) represents the future for our family. We want to turn it into a community space or a bed and breakfast. We’ll see what it takes. Who knows what it will be. But what we do know is that we have an amazing opportunity to take something that was not being used and turn it into something amazing.

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Right now the church sits empty. The house doesn’t have too much inside of it. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Old pipes need fixed. Roofs need repaired. Everything just needs a nice cleaning. It’s going to be a long and difficult process. How will we pay for the heating bill in the winter? That’s what a lot of folks ask us. I don’t know just yet. But I do know that this was a move that our family had to make. We’ll figure out all the details later. But we’re all in right now.

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Moving makes me anxious. All of the housework that needs to be done makes me anxious. All of the stuff that I want for the library to be to this community keeps me up at night. I have to constantly remind myself to take it slow. Everything will be alright in the end. I like looking out the window. I like to see the trees and the gardening. I like knowing that the world that we’re building around our family will be amazing.

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I live five blocks from the library. I can walk down the street from our home to the library in just a few minutes. There’s a woman who’s always sitting on her front porch reading books. I say hi to her a lot. I walk by a small creek called Church Run. The water flows and the sound is beautiful. I walk a little bit more and I’m in Downtown Titusville. It’s good to be in a small town. I’ve enjoyed my time in big cities but my heart has always been with these small towns.

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It’s very important to have fun in all that we do. We have to laugh and enjoy every step of the way. That is the most important thing I’ve learned in my 35 years on Earth.

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And love. La la la la love. Always love.

Family

Middle

Aero and I up on top of a rock. Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga TN.
Aero and I up on top of a rock. Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga TN.

My brain does not stop. I think about things a lot. My brain acts like a computer program. IF THIS THEN THAT. What comes next? Where do I stand? What do I do? Where do I go? I call this the blessing and the curse. I am thankful that I can always remain mindful about what’s going on around me but at the same time I want it to stop at certain points of the day. When I get this way I like to write. I’m thankful that I have this blog for this reason.

When I started this blog back in 2009 I had the idea to make this a place where I shared anything and everything that was in my mind. Somewhere along the line it became a blog all about library stuff. Last year it felt like it became a place where I only talked about the library stuff that I was part of these days. I’m traveling here! I’m traveling there! I am doing this! Things didn’t feel quite real and authentic to me. I wasn’t painting the full picture of who I was. 2015 has been one big quest to reclaim that authenticity in my writing and in my life. I can’t fully explain it but I’ll try.

I don’t feel that connected to the world. I imagine my family and I as part of the world, but maybe just floating on a hoverboard right out of the view of everyone else. We’re part of it all but at the same time kind of right over here just doing our own thing (on our hoverboard). Over the past five or so years of my life I have made a very strong attempt to get away from all of that and be part of the rest of the world. It has been a most interesting journey. There were times where I thought that it would all work out well. There were other times where I felt like I was this weird person that I did not know. All in all, things have been back and forth.

Gemini complex by SuryaAsura, found at http://suryaasura.deviantart.com/art/Gemini-complex-207617414
Gemini complex by SuryaAsura, found at http://suryaasura.deviantart.com/art/Gemini-complex-207617414

I buy into the whole “I am what my astrological sign says I am” and I am a Gemini. I feel this pull from one extreme to the other every day of my life. My wife Haley noticed that about me from the first day we met. She’s always told me to find the middle and to not be so extreme. We’ve been together 10 years now and I’ve always listened to her….and I think I’m getting closer to the middle. The middle is what I want it to be. I make up my own middle. Every step of my journey…from Pennsylvania to Washington to Pennsylvania to New Jersey to Maine to Tennessee and now back to Pennsylvania has helped me understand “my middle”. The cast of characters, my family and my friends, all along the way have helped me get to this place….and for that, I am eternally thankful. I can’t list everyone here but just know that if we’ve interacted over the past ten years in this journey of mine you’ve been a positive part of the whole thing. I thank you for that.

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When our family finally closes on the purchase of our house/church combo as our primary living space later this month/early next month, I will say that I believe have found the perfect physical representation of my middle. There’s something about owning this property that makes me feel very content and happy. I like the possibility that both the house and church offer my family. I am excited for my kids to tell the story that they lived in an old church. I am most excited to build a fence between the two properties that will act as a courtyard/portal between the two locations! It’ll be very fun and eye opening to build this with my family. It will be great to open up this property to our friends and family who want to visit and live with us and share moments together for a brief time.

All of this? Awesome and exciting.

Family, Libraries

Our Third Place

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Young. Twenty-something. Full of energy, excitement, and the strong desire to change everything that you see around in the world. That’s why I got into this library thing and that’s how I started on this path.

But time passes, moves forward, and things change. I’ve started to slow down a bit. I’ve stopped thinking about the big things all of the time and start to look up and see little things like birds chirping, grass growing, etc. I watch my two sons Finn and Aero as they grow from little babies to dapper young men who have unique personalities and ideas about the world. I see the energy that I used to have in them. I see them thinking about the big ideas and how they can possibly change them.

IMG_0760I grow older with my amazing wife Haley. She’s my best friend and my partner in everything that happens from day to day. We make the big decisions (where do we wanna live?) and the small decisions (do we want to get rid of all of our couches and get bean bags for our whole house?) every day. We grow together and we have fun doing it. There have been ups and there have been downs. But we do it all together and it is an amazing ride. I now understand the whole best friend thing.

IMG_0769What has happened to the librarian part of my brain is kind of remarkable…it kind of went away. That’s not to say that I’m done with being a librarian. I still have a lot in me. But that ever nagging feeling to be the best librarian in the entire solar system is….well it’s gone. It’s been replaced by a steady sense of calm and understanding. I am just a human being whose is first and foremost a husband and a father. The librarian thing? It’s a great way to connect with the community and have an impact on the world. It also pays the bills, and that is very important too. It is not everything. But it is something.

IMG_0790My best “library programs” these days happen at my home with my family. We watch movies together. We record songs together (see the photo above). We cook, clean, and eat as a family. We learn together. Our home has become not only the place where we rest our heads and hang out hats, but our library/school/college/community center/etc. It is our “third place”.

11035621_10100380350901200_2881243827750549727_nI am really enjoying this chapter of my life.